Sorting through the shelves

Randa at Garden Geek tagged me with another book meme. I love an excuse to talk about books, but felt like I needed to narrow the focus a bit, so decided to think in terms of nature books only. As you can see in this pic of one of my bookshelves, my book collection (and my thinking about books) is not very well organized. I tend not to think of books in the terms used in this meme; maybe that’s what made this so very difficult for me. Anyway, here goes…

1. One book that changed your life: Changed my life? I won’t go that far, but should mention Equinox: Life, Love, and Birds of Prey by Dan O’Brien. I remember wandering around a Barnes & Noble and being drawn to this book in the “Discover New Writers” section because it had a falcon on the cover. I was just getting interested in birds and this was the first of an endless series of nature books I’ve devoured in the 10 years or so since reading it. I read each of Dan O’Brien’s books that I could find in the library and have purchased each new one as it is published. I read the authors who wrote *blurbs* for this book and found Jim Harrison, Rick Bass, and Stephen Bodio each of whom has lead me to other authors and other books.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Prior to reading books on the natural world I had been reading a lot of gardening essays. Naturally, I began to find myself favoring those garden authors whose books intersected with my interest in the outdoors. Sue Hubbell is one such author and her A Country Year: Living the Questions is a book that I’ve read over and over when the mood strikes me. It’s the type of book I can pick up and read for an hour or two and return to six months later. Hubbell’s books cover varied topics like bee-keeping and living in the country, but also sea life and bugs among other things. Good stuff that I always enjoy.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Easy question! Sundial of the Seasons by Hal Borland.

4. One book that made you laugh: Nature books as funny? The only ones I can think of are by Pete Dunne, but he gets less funny the more you read him; he needs some new one-liners! Sorry, Pete!

5. One book that made you cry: The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter. Wonderful book that I enjoyed immensely and have often given as a gift. It tells the story of a Cherokee boy growing up the Appalachians in the 30’s.

6. One book that you wish had been written: I’d love to see someone write a book about Sandy Hook and its environs, something like Season at the Point: A Birder’s Journal of Cape May by Jack Connor. I know quite a few people who have the knowledge to write a book about the Hook; maybe someday one of them will.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: I won’t bother finishing a book if I’m not enjoying it, so can’t really answer this one. The most recent book that was disappointing to me was On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon by Alan Tennant. It got good reviews, but nearly bored me to death.

8. One book you’re currently reading: Whispers in the Pines: A Naturalist in the Northeast by Joanna Burger. I haven’t made much progress with it yet, but it’s there on the nightstand. I loved one of her other books: A Naturalist Along the Jersey Shore, so I’m bound to enjoy this one too.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: I want to find the time to re-read Scott Weidensaul’s Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds. Every one of his books is great, but this was a favorite.

10. Now tag five people: I’m not sure that I want to trouble anyone with a tag, so I’ll just extend a general invitation to anyone that might feel like doing this. In particular, I would love to hear (maybe just in comments to this post) about your favorite book about the natural world. Nothing is better than a book recommended by a friend! I’d also like to know if anyone has read any of the books that I mentioned here and what your thoughts were. Let’s talk books!

15 thoughts on “Sorting through the shelves”

  1. Weidensaul’s Living on the Wind is excellent. He writes a wonderful mix of personal anecdote and reporting on important scientific work.

  2. I think my favorite nature book is “Beakless Bluebirds & Featherless Penguins” by Sister Barbara Ann. It’s a one year nature journal written by a nun who is raising 2 badly injured (missing beaks) orphaned bluebirds. It’s such a “gentle” read – perfect for bedtime reading. It’s out of print, but I often see used copies available on Amazon.

  3. Ohhh, books, one of my favorite things to talk about. I like your bookshelves. I really enjoyed reading “Rachel Carson” by Linda Lear. I feel if Rachel Carson had written a book about herself, this would have been it. There’s others I could list, but this is the most recent one that I’ve read that had the biggest impact on me.

  4. Nature books can be funny! “Last Chance To See” by Douglas Adams is about endangered species, but manages to be both hilarious and poignant at the same time.

    I especially like when they’re in China, trying to by condoms to waterproof the microphone so they can record the sounds of the Yangtze river dolphin. I don’t usually go for that kind of humor, but Douglas Adams sure had a way of telling things. I’m getting the giggles just thinking about it.

    Off to find my copy now…

  5. Thank you for doing this – what a pleasure to read about your favourite nature books! I haven’t read any of the books you list, but I want to mention that last week I clicked on your ‘What I’m Reading’ on your sidebar to check out Whispers in the Pines…and your blog is where I first heard of Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods. Whispers sounds very interesting; I’ll probably get my hands on that. I got partway through Louv’s book; I found the premise absolutely fascinating, and subsequently had many discussions on the topic with friends, family and coworkers…but I found his writing very meandering and, ultimately, boring, so I stopped halfway through. FASCINATING ideas and observations to ponder and discuss, though.

  6. I like Hal Borland’s books, and of course the education of little tree, because of my Cherokee heritage. Sue Hubbell sounds so familar, but have not read that book. I looked her up, and see that she lives in Maine now.
    Just love getting book names to look up, thanks, Laura.

  7. A book that made a difference in my life. Don’t laugh- the WONDER WOMAN comics. They were the first thing I read, in which the woman was the hero.
    After that almost everything I read for promoting the value of women content.

  8. John: I think that’s what makes his books so enjoyable. Have you read others by him?

    Susan: Sounds like an interesting story! I’ll have to keep an eye out for it. Have you read “Hummingbird in the House” – sounds similar.

    Naturewoman: I haven’t read much Rachel Carson other than “Silent Spring” and a collection of her essays with the Whorled Leaves blog. I’m not familiar with the book you mentioned, will have to search around the web for more info – thanks for the suggestion! I was amazed by what a *naturalist’s eye* Carson had at a very young age.

    Bunnygirl: I’ve seen that book, but never read it! I’ll have to read it to add a *funny* book to my list.

  9. Randa: I felt much the same about the Louv book – his ideas were excellent, but I felt like I was reading an undergraduate research paper! He did nothing to connect his ideas and didn’t seem to draw any conclusions – just kept citing study after study – very boring. Really it’s a shame I think because the book got a lot of attention and might have had some impact, were it better written.

  10. Sandy: I bet you’ll like Sue Hubbell. Try the one I mentioned first, before the bug books as there a bit more *science* than nature essay.

    Hal Borland is wonderful, but all of his books are out of print.

    Recently I learned that there is some controversy about Little Tree (or more specifically about the author) – had you heard any of that? Did you find the book to be authentic?

  11. Silverlight: You made me laugh with that – what a surprise! I’d guess for a little girl Wonder Woman could be quite the hero (beats Barbie and Holly Hobbie!)

  12. Laura, love the post. I’ll do my own sometime soon. I like your idea about the Sandy Hook book. “The Hook Book” hehehe. Anyway, I think it’s an awesome idea. Maybe I’ll take up writing and interviewing as a hobby.

    As a side note, I didn’t really like “Season at the Point”. The first half was interesting, but for some reason it lost me after a while.

  13. Patrick: Besides yourself (grin!) who do you think might write a book about Sandy Hook?

    I remember enjoying Season at the Point, but not why the second half might be boring – I’ll have to go look.

    Diva Kitty: Thanks for making mom do it – I enjoyed it!

  14. good, entertaining book about snakes by a well-known herpetologist, Snakes in Fact and Fiction, James Oliver. also, Shadowbirds by Wm Burt is excellent account of his attempts to track down and photograph the elusive rails.

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